Each and every week, the children are busy, chatty, engaged, sociable, and out there being kids and playing when they come to the woods, But it is often easy to overlook the depth of value value of Forest School and the skills learned whilst out there for the participants.
This week we reflected on some of the many skills they have gently built over the weeks and months (and some of them years ) spent in the woods at our sessions.
Today some children re-made their den, by tightening the rope for the tarpaulin, moving logs to prop up the wooden poles and using secateurs to cut back the brambles inside the den. This was all child- led, independent 'work'. They knew what they wanted to do, knew what tools to use and how to use them safely and knew how to work together to strive for a collective aim. They are not done though... they have grand plans for more tarps next week to extend their space.
Another group of children took the trolley and filled it with dry, dead wood. They brought it back to the wood store to sort it into sizes and saw it up ready for future fires. Again, this was independent child's 'work'. Knowing that they had to ask for an adult to reach the protective gloves they needed for sawing and working together with an age range from 5-13.
"Have you got the bags and litter pickers?" was another child led question when starting the session. Each and every week over the past few years, the children have driven the action of collecting litter from the public footpath and bridleway route to the woods. Another bag filled. More hedges dived into, whilst thinking about hoe prickly they might be, more slopes scrambled down in the pursuit of a tidier environment. "Did you know that animals might get harmed if there is litter left around ?" All child directed action.
The hammock was put up and taken down by children. They took turns and pushed each other on the swings also.
So whilst the children were mainly out there chatting to their mates and playing, they've also shown us and each other just how many skills they have and what value comes from an afternoon in the woods.